The Need to Dispute and Dismantle Race-Based Crime Myths

Edward Wyckoff Williams

 

From New America Media and The Root:

 

 When it comes to America's racial past and present, lies and snake oil are sold in many colors.

 

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, conservatives in media have sought to deflect from the racism and racial profiling that precipitated his untimely death by referencing the broader social malaise of supposed "black-on-black violence."

 

On last week's episode of “This Week” on ABC, Washington Post columnist George Will said that despite the Trayvon tragedy, "150 black men are killed every week in this country," and "about 94 percent of them by other black men."

 

Will parroted arguments made by many conservatives, his intended point being that black-on-black crime remains the real problem our nation should address. The half-truth he spoke went curiously unchallenged by the panel -- including former White House adviser Van Jones -- largely because the meta-narrative of black-on-black violence is widely accepted in journalistic and political circles.

 

Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News host and one-man propaganda machine, recently interviewed Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill to discuss similar claims from Wall Street Journal contributor Shelby Steele, who wrote in "The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin" that "black teenagers are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites." O'Reilly vehemently defended Steele's premise that the Trayvon Martin case is an anomaly.

 

"Blacks today are nine times more likely to be killed by other blacks than by whites," Steele wrote. He went on to attack the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for "exploiting" Trayvon's death in an effort to promote a "liberal" agenda -- a point that O'Reilly was all too happy to expound.

 

Steele's perspective, though myopic and misguided, remains pervasive and embedded in the broader social consciousness. This red-herring approach is not new, but in the face of Trayvon's death, these obstructive tactics require an equal and opposite response.

 

What Will, Steele and O'Reilly failed to mention is the exacting truth that white Americans are just as likely to be killed by other whites. According to Justice Department statistics, 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites.

 

In fact, all races share similar ratios. Yet there's no outrage or racialized debate about "white on white" violence. Instead, the myth and associated fear of "black on black" crime is sold as a legitimate, mainstream descriptive and becomes American status quo.

 

The truth? As the largest racial group, whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks again, more than 2-1.

 

Given this mathematical truth, would anyone encourage African-Americans to begin shooting suspicious white males in their neighborhoods for fear that they'll be raped, assaulted or murdered? Perhaps George Zimmerman's defenders should answer that question. If African-Americans were to act as irrationally as Zimmerman did, would any rationale suffice to avoid arrest?

 

And why is no consideration given to the fact that Trayvon Martin, and millions of black youths like him, harbor a reasonably founded fear of whites but are hardly ever provided the deference and dignity that victimhood affords?

 

The term "black on black" crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence. This is untrue and fully verifiable by FBI, DOJ and census data. Yet the fallacy is so fixed that even African-Americans have come to believe it.

 

In Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, she explains that the term was coined in the 1980s as American cities underwent transformation as a result of riots, white flight and the onslaught of the drug trade. David Wilson, a professor at the University of Illinois, documents the phenomena in Inventing Black-on-Black Violence. Wilson says that instead of attributing increased crime activity to poverty, inequality and disenfranchisement, the media chose to blame "a supposedly defective, aberrant black culture."

 

In a 2010 piece published by The Root, "The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence," Natalie Hopkinson opines that journalists should follow the direction of the United Kingdom, where the Guardian newspaper banned the use of the phrase. A Guardian stylebook asked authors to ''imagine the police saying they were investigating an incident of white-on-white violence ... " Hopkinson concludes, "The term 'black-on-black violence' is a slander against the majority of law-abiding black Americans, rich and poor, who get painted by this broad and crude brush."

 

Trayvon Martin's tragic death reveals the worst ills at play within America's criminal-justice system. Not only was he murdered in large part because of dangerous, persistent stereotypes, but the failure of police to judiciously respond to the crime underscores the inequities that characterize institutionalized racism.

 

Those who respond to the tragedy by retreating to narratives of black-on-black crime seek to promote it as a defense against an innocent youth’s violent homicide. This reveals how entrenched the lies have become and how eager too many people are to absolve both Zimmerman's guilt and their own tacit consent.

 

African-American media and policymakers have been equally complicit in promoting a "black-on-black crime" anecdote, thinking that it could help address some of the community's problems; but what it has actually done is provide support for racial profiling and promote the disproportionate policing of black criminality as "legitimate" and "acceptable." This over-policing has led to disproportionately higher rates of arrests in black communities, reinforcing the idea that blacks commit more crimes.

 

If we were to talk about "white-on-white crime," then at least we'd be addressing issues like gun violence in a racially neutral way. That doesn't happen because too many Americans remain convinced that black or brown people are the problem. Journalists like George Will further perpetuate lies as fact when they make blanket statements that support an ill-conceived narrative.

 

It seems that the media in general and white American society in particular prefer to focus on crime perpetrated by African-Americans because it serves as a way to absolve them from the violence, prejudice and institutionalized discrimination engendered for generations against blacks. It offers a buffer against responsibility, a way to shift blame and deflect cause and effect. But the truth, and numbers, tell a different story.

 

The myth of black-on-black violence has become a stain on the sociopolitical consciousness and indelibly imbues mindsets as well as public policy. At the heart of an increasingly violent society is not a subculture among blacks but the violence and criminality of many Americans, and whites in particular. No one seems to speak about this. … It is time for race-based pseudo-facts to be challenged and dismantled.

 

Author Bio:

Edward Wyckoff Williams is an author, columnist and political analyst for MSNBC and a former investment banker.

 

New America Media

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Comments

blacks make up about 13% of the population, but commit 49% of murders, 32% of forcible rapes, 55% of robberies, 34% of aggravated assault, and on and on - according the very FBI crime statistics cited by the author.

Email: 
wnist@innocent.com

You appear to assert that the view that blacks are more prone to violence is incorrect, based on black-on-black (same-race) homicide rates (93% for black-on-black versus 84% for white-on-white).

However, the DOJ statistics show that African Americans, who comprise about 13% of the population, commit about 49% of all homicides (same-race and interracial). Or, as other DOJ statistics show, the rate at which African Americans commit homicide is roughly seven times that of Whites. I would suggest that those asserting that blacks are much more likley or prone to commit homicides is based on these DOJ figures.

     There is no myth.

      The 'colored' peoples of the world commit disproportionately high amounts of crime within the U.S. compared to indigenous whites.

      The bias of the Mass Media is reflected like a mirror in your article where you continue to paint blacks as 'Angels that can do no wrong'. Not only is this a phantasy, it is a deadly one that has cost so many young people of all races their very lives.

      According to the Department of Justice's own statistics, http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/race.cfm

  • 86% of white victims were killed by whites
  • 94% of black victims were killed by blacks

For the years 1976-2005 combined -

  • Black victims are over represented in homicides involving drugs. Compared with the overall involvement of blacks as victims, blacks are less often the victims of sex-related homicides, workplace killings, and homicide by poison.
     
  • Race patterns among offenders are similar to those among victims.

For homicides committed by --

  • a friend or acquaintance of the victim, less than one-tenth (8%) were interracial
  • a stranger to the victim, one-quarter were interracial

Essentially, the entire statistics prove that the majority of homicide in the US is committed by blacks, against whites, even then the majority of the crime is committed against strangers rather than friends or acquaintances. 

....So much for 'Myth' when the Department of Justice Stat sics a US GOV agency will prove you wrong with a calculator.

Email: 
swarmer1000@gmail.com

"As the largest racial group, white commit the majority of crimes in America."

Perhaps true, but ultimately trivial. First, the FBI counts latino perpetratros as "white" but latino victims as "Hispanic."  This skews the numbers. Second, since whites are th eoverwhelming majority of the population, it should not be surprising if a majority of criminal suspects are white.

Let's look at some other facts.  According to the US Department of Justice, between 1974 and 2004, blacks comprised 52% of all homicide perpetrators. This means that blacks on average are about eight times more likely to commit homicide than whites.

Blacks make up 25% of rapists and about 60% of armed robbers. 

"Given this mathematical truth, would anyone encourage African-Americans to begin shooting suspicious white males in their neighborhoods for fear that they'll be raped, assaulted or murdered? Perhaps George Zimmerman's defenders should answer that question."   Allow me to answer that question. Zimmerman didn't shoot Martin because he was a suspicious black person; Zimmerman shot Martin in self defense. Martin attacked ZImmerman, punched him, climbed on top of him and was slamming his head into the concrete.

 

Email: 
KarlKetzer@hushmail.com

If blacks are 12% of the population and commit half as much violent crime as whites, then clearly blacks commit proportionately more violent crime than whites. Anyway, my own direct experience has taught me - and many others - that blacks tend to be more lawless and aggressive than whites, No "liberal" (who no doubt lives in a lily white area and sends his own kids to an all white school) will make me believe something contrary to my direct experience..

Email: 
peter_gcda@yahoo.co.uk

I agree. Also they ARE the majority in jail as well. So take 10 white men and 10 black men. 3 out of 10 whites will be scum. 6 out of 10 blacks will be scum if i did the math correct.

Let's analyse this. For hundreds of years, Whites invaded Black countries raping, torturing and murdering Blacks, not to talk about the theft of Africa by whites. Whites murdered an eatimated 100 million Blacks. Then came lynching of blacks by whites where whites murdered thousands of blacks legally. To date, whites are still murdering backs over skin color as in the case of Stephen Lawrence, Trayvon Martin and many more who were not high profile cases. whites have invaded other countries killing millions of other races. whites commit a large number of sex crimes against litte children than blacks- more whites are paedophiles as you can see in the number of white men going to Asia to rape children. whites kill their spouses and kids more than any other groups. Take a look at history and present and you'll see that the most violent race is tge white race. the nastiest race is the white race, tbe most perveted race is the white race.

 

 

 

Email: 
ladijesus@gmail.com

Interesting crime stats from the FBI. Overall whites commit 70% of all crime in the USA.  We also need to discuss white on white crime.

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/cri…

More than twice as many whites as blacks were arrested and charged with a crime, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports.

Of 9.5 million offenses charged, 6.7 million whites were arrested, compared to 2.5 million blacks.
 
The most common crimes were drug abuse violations, resulting in arrest of 770,430 whites and 381,006 blacks.
 
Whites were far more likely to be arrested driving under the influence. Of 998,035 total offenses, 877,810 of those arrested where whites.
 
Blacks, meanwhile, were more than twice as likely as whites to be arrested for gambling, 5,153 to 1,964.
 
And while blacks comprise about 13 percent of the population, they were charged with most of the robberies, 40,993 compared to 33,070 for whites, and nearly as many homicides--4,395 black and 4,454 white.
 
Whites outnumbered blacks about 2-1 in arrests for other crimes, including rape (11,766-6,114), aggravated assault (203,076-103,697), burglary (143,889-103,697) and larceny/theft (556,215-233,806.)
 
Whites also were most often arrested for motor vehicle theft, arson, other assaults, fraud, embezzlement, dealing in stolen property, vandalism, weapons charges, prostitution, sex offenses, crimes against families and children, liquor laws, drunkenness, disorderly conduct, vagrancy, curfew and loitering, suspicion, as runaways and all other offenses not including traffic.
Email: 
mombasa46@yahoo.com

The author of this article is innumerate and fails to grasp the concept of proportionality. Nevertheless, he received an economics degree from Yale. Ivy League schools are hesistate to fail students once they've matriculated - it's easier to graduate with a 2.8-3.2 GPA from Yale than your average State U.  Since he absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt was an affirmative action admit his credentials mean next to nothing. 

Your racism is so blatant it's embarassing.  There is obviously nothing a person of color could do to convince you he or she has merit. 

Senseless article.

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